“Grr…How I hate these annoying things…” said Rachel.
She put a pillow on her head and tried to go back to sleep.
“NOT AGAIN!!! I JUST TURNED OFF THE DAMN THING!!!”
But this time it wasn’t the alarm that was going off. It was her phone. The machine could take this call. She hadn’t been sleeping well at night, owing to all the late night calls.
“Hello…Yes…This is Rachel Ferns apartment, and I am definitely sleeping right now. So please leave a message after the beep.”
“Rachel, this is Gupta aunty here. I know you are awake. You better be. Pick up the phone quick!!!”
She hit her leg against the side of the bed as she got up to receive the call that had robbed her of her beauty sleep. She had to take this call.
“Ahha…Yes!! I’ll be there by 10 a.m.”
“Yes! I am totally aware that today is the 26th and that tomorrow is the only day left before this batch of shoes goes out”.
“Ok. Goodbye, Mrs. Gupta. Have a nice day…”
She turned her back to return to her warm bed. That’s when it struck her, “Today is the 26th of April!!!!!! You have got to be kidding me!!!”
The flurry of activity that continued was expected of someone who had just realized that her boyfriend was returning after a year, an entire year. She had never seen him, but she loved him and he loved her too. His name was Peter, Peter Wolf. He was part Indian and part German. They met online. He was in the US of A, he had a job there. After an entire year of only chatting with each other online and occasionally on the phone, they had decided to meet. There may have been miles and miles between them, but the truth was, he was always just a phone call away. Or that’s how they had come to see it. It made them feel a little better about the distance. After all, it was the phone calls that had helped them survive the one whole year. Finally, things were going to change.
Today was that blessed day when he was to arrive in Mumbai. He had promised to call as soon as he got here. Not like he had promised anything else, but her womanly intuition said that he was going to propose to her, and that was the main reason that he was coming down.
“Oh ho!!!” she exclaimed. As usual, she had forgotten and hadn’t asked for a day off. She couldn’t afford to call in sick, since she had just assured aunty that she would be coming in today. There was a deadline to be met. A half day was the only option she had. She had to get to the studio as soon as her feet could carry her.
Rachel worked at the Dancer’s guild studio. She was an instructor there. She taught Salsa to the Beginners and the Improvers. She absolutely loved her job.
Peter had mentioned that he was a good dancer himself. He didn’t smoke or drink. He loved reading books. His favourite novel was “Wuthering Heights”. Rachel was in total awe of this one fact. She had attempted reading the novel, but found it too slow to ever complete it.
She couldn’t wait to see him. However, one thing that bothered her was that he hadn’t called her for the last two days.
“Maybe he wants to build up the suspense until we meet”.
Her studio was situated at Marine Drive and it took her a whole good hour to get there from her place and she was going to be late as usual.
“Good morn, auntyji”.
“Mar gayi aunty!! Kitthe thi!! Ae ladki toh meri jaan leke hi chhodegi”, replied Mrs. Gupta. She and her son ran the studio. Actually, her son was the dancer. She handled the office work. She was a lot crankier in the past few days, owing to all the extra work that their new venture had brought along with it. They were now selling Dancing shoes and were planning on setting up a place alongside the studio. Their first order was to be sent to a prominent dance studio in the suburbs. Rachel was to help aunty with this order.
“Ab chhodo bhi, maa!!! You come on in. And why are you late today, miss???” said Viks.
“I overslept, yaar”.
“Tell me something new, girl” said Viks, “Haven’t you been doing the same thing for the last seven years.
“Gosh!! Has it really been seven years?? We are getting really old, aren’t we?”
This was the one chance that Mrs. Gupta was waiting for. She immediately screamed from the room inside, “Like I say. He is not getting any younger. Ask him to find a girl for himself. He is twenty nine now. If you hadn’t been in love with that Peter boy, I would have asked you to marry my son”.
Rachel couldn’t help, but laugh at the thought. How could she marry Viks? He was her best friend. Anyways, it was all ok, since Peter was the one for her. Though, she knew that Viks disapproved of him. He always used to ask her ‘How can you love someone you haven’t met!! It’s infatuation. Give it up!!’
Viks had never had a girlfriend. Not once. Not like he was bad looking or anything. He was rich, filthy rich actually. But the truth was, he was still very single.
Their summer vacation special morning batch was due to start in 15 minutes. Rachel went and changed into her dancing attire – the feminine top, the skirt, the heels, et al.
The class began. But Rachel wasn’t able to concentrate. There were a number of questions floating in her head - How did he smell? How would he sound in person, any different from what he sounded on the phone? Would he hold her hand? Would he hug her? For how long would he hug her? Where would they go after that?
Everyone was laughing. Rachel looked to see what had happened. She had stamped the foot of the student she was dancing with.
“Am so sorry!!” she said. But he didn’t seem to mind. She was the prettiest instructor he had ever seen. Why would he mind?
Vikram noticed how distracted she seemed. He decided to wrap up class soon.
“Why do you have that stupid look on your face?” Viks asked.
“Viks today is the 26th”.
“Don’t you remember?”
“What? What was I supposed to remember?”
She let out a sigh. No one else cared. Not like she had a family. This guy and his family were the only family she had. And now she had Peter. The only person who could make her feel complete.
She looked at the mirror in front of her and she saw Viks trying to conceal something.
“What’s that?” she said. “What are you trying to hide from me?”
She pulled out the package that he had tried so hard to hide.
“What’s in it?”
“Why don’t you check it out yourself?”
She peered into the bag and pulled out its contents. It was a beautiful red dress and matching shoes.
“It’s lovely”, she said as she hugged him.
“Did you really think that I could forget that he is coming today? It’s the most important day of your life. I knew you wouldn’t have time to shop, so I picked this up for you”.
Rachel smiled. “Can I ask you just one question? How do you understand women’s clothing more than me?”
All he did was shrug his shoulders and let out a laugh.
“Try it on”.
She picked up the dress, gave him a peck on the cheek as she walked into the cloak room to change. When she walked out, she looked like a vision. She knew it too. You could tell by the way she walked.
As she stood there looking at herself in the mirror, she was unaware bout Viks eyes that were staring right at her. A tear rolled down his eye. He quickly wiped it. He didn’t know how to tell her. There was just one secret that he had kept from this girl. He didn’t want her to go away from him. The truth was that he was a homosexual. He was never attracted towards girls. That was the reason why he hadn’t ever had any girlfriends. But he hadn’t told Rachel. Never ever. But why hadn’t he told her? That was one question even he felt was difficult to answer.
“Come on, you have an appointment to keep” he said as he pulled her out by the arm.
“What appointment? What are u talking about?” she protested.
“Hey!! Ok!! Am not going to kidnap you or anything. I have taken an appointment at Barkha’s”.
Barkha’s was one of the best beauty salons in town. Viks wanted Rachel to look perfect for Peter. He didn’t know whether this guy was for real, but if he was, then he could keep Rachel happy.
“Mom!! We are stepping out for a bit. See ya!!!” he yelled at the top of his voice as he n Rachel stepped out of the studio.
The end result after the stop over at Barkha’s was RAVISHING.
“Oh my god! You look like a goddess.”
“I feel like one too” she gushed.
Rachel couldn’t take it any longer. She had to meet him at the airport. She couldn’t wait for him to call. She knew the flight he was going to take. He had told her when he had called her three days back. She had seen his photographs, so she would be able to recognize him. She asked Viks if he would drive her there. He smiled at her n nodded. He just wanted her to be happy.
His flight was due to arrive at 7:30 p.m. Viks had checked with the guys at the airport, the flight was on time.
Rachel and he craned their necks when the crowds started streaming out. They waited with bated breath. Both of them.
This was like her worst nightmare come true. This couldn’t be happening. He hadn’t come.
“Maybe he missed his flight” Viks said reassuringly. But that didn’t help.
Rachel removed her cell phone and dialed Peter’s number. The machine took the call. Her eyes swelled up with tears.
“This can’t be happening, Viks. I had promised myself that no other man would do this to me”.
She was reminded of one of the days of her life that she had forced out of her memory. Her father, who was working in Moscow, had promised to come and fetch her when he heard of her mother’s death. He was the only one she had. She was just 12. He never came. She spent the next few years in an orphanage.
Viks knew this story. He knew how devastated Rachel was. He didn’t say a word. He just held her hand n forced back the tears that were now welling up in his eyes. They sat there for the next 4 hours.
“Take me home” she said weakly. It was about 11:30 p.m.
They reached her apartment at well past midnight. He didn’t want to leave her alone. But he didn’t even know whether it would be appropriate to stay on. Eventually he left. She needed her time. She always fought alone. He knew she wasn’t going to sleep that night. Neither was he.
He came to check on her, first thing in the morning.
“Good morning” he said. She didn’t reply. She was still in the red dress. Her hair was a mess. Nothing had been touched since last night. Her eyes were all puffed up from crying the whole night.
He pulled out the empty suitcase from underneath her bed and starting putting in her clothes.
“What do you think you are doing?” she asked.
“We are going to Goa for about a month”.
“No! We are not” she screamed.
“Leave me alone, Viks. I can’t take it. I don’t need sympathy. I can handle the pain”
He turned towards her. For the first time, she noticed the tears in his eyes.
“But I can’t handle the pain of seeing you hurting.”
She slumped against him. She cried like a baby. She couldn’t control the tears, and this one time, she didn’t want to.
All the promises that she had made with Peter were broken. Her heart was broken. Broken again.
“You need a break” he said.
She managed a smile back. She knew this was true. She had been working the whole year, trying to save up for her wedding with Peter. Now it was time to let go.
“When do we leave?” she asked him.
“In a couple of hours” he answered.
“Umm…Rachel” he said. She turned to look at him.
“I love you”
She smiled. “I love you too. Thanks sweets”
He knew she would be fine eventually. He hoped she would. He had it all planned. His mom was not going to allow him to remain unmarried all his life. He couldn’t tell her about his sexual orientation. So he was going to tell Rachel the truth. The whole truth. And if she still wanted to be with him, he would ask her to move with him. They could leave Mumbai together. Start anew. He hoped she would agree. He couldn’t do it alone.
“Am ready. Let’s go.”
“Ok” he said, following her.
Just as she locked the door, she heard the telephone ring inside. She felt her heart skip a beat. But then again, did she still have any hope left! If she did, then she was being a fool. She just shook her head n held Viks hand and walked down the stairs.
The machine took the call –
“Hey baby…Pete here. Am sorry I couldn’t contact you. It’s a long story. Will tell you when I get there. Am coming to Mumbai. Will be there soon. Come on. Pick up. Am sorry. I really wanna speak with you.”
Friday, March 30, 2007
Posted by Tabitha at Friday, March 30, 2007
Posted by Tabitha at Friday, March 30, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Posted by Tabitha at Sunday, March 18, 2007